Sports are very much intrinsic to the very fabric of Australian society in culture, a country that is justifiably proud of its rich sporting traditions and achievements. But alongside producing some of the most iconic talents of track and field, across numerous disciplines, Aussie tech innovation has become part of the consistent story of success.
Australia is already recognized as a hub for emerging technologies, from video game development to fintech applications and software. But the country has also pioneered in many other fields of research and development, such as the first successful scramjet test flight in 2002, and coming up with a cervical cancer vaccine in 2006.
But another flourishing area of significant advancement revolves around sports. According to Australian Sports Technologies Network data, the rapidly growing sportstech sector is now worth more than $4.25 billion annually. This now equates to 11% of the total revenue generated by the sports industry each year, currently employing more than 13,000 Aussies at 758 companies. Likewise, some of the key focus areas are just as intriguing to discover.
When we think about the vast open desert and scrubland in Australia, lush green grass might not instantly spring to our minds, yet some of the most innovative pitch technology companies are based here. This has become increasingly important for high-profile sports events when playing surfaces must always be in tip-top condition.
Back in 1998, HG Turf Group introduced “hybrid technology” at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, combining natural grass with artificial fibers for the first time in Australian sports, introducing what they call the lay-and-play turf system. Innovations like SISGrass are based around reinforcing turf, weaving polyethylene fibers into pitches that are 95% natural.
Over the last decade, hybrid grass technologies have continued to evolve, offering preferable solutions to the alternative of laying fully artificial or astroturf playing surfaces. This has led to increased adoption by major international sporting organizations, including FIFA for the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia, They were keen to ensure pitches looked and felt natural while remaining easier to maintain.
Being sat around a casino gaming table might not immediately be associated with sports, but both spheres of entertainment have increasingly merged. For example, many legit casinos for real money in Australia feature pokies based around sports, whenever we look through site reviews for the most popular games.
Pokies are known as slots in most countries around the world, and one of the biggest manufacturers of gaming machines and software in Australia is Aristocrat, which recently formed a partnership with the NFL in the United States, releasing a range of games based on American football and the most famous teams. This provides a direct correlation between iGaming and sports, mostly in the shape of sponsorship, investment, and tech collaborations.
Another influential casino game is poker, often causing debates about whether it should also be considered a sport. Indeed, many of the biggest international poker tournaments are shown live by sports broadcasters, and they were also some of the first to be shown live by dedicated sports streaming platforms.
Few things capture the imaginations of Aussies quite like attending sports events, whether it’s watching top AFL games or international cricket and rugby tournaments. There’s also nothing that compares to the atmosphere of an excited crowd, cheering on their favorite teams and relishing the experience that comes with participating.
And it’s the fan experience that has become a key focal point for Australian tech companies, who are always on the lookout for ways to bring even more enjoyment, creating innovative ways to entertain and engage the crowds. Smart stadiums are now reinventing the fan experience, bringing instant updates to the smartphones of attendees, and providing real-time data feeds and statistics. But that’s just part of a much bigger picture.
In what has been dubbed the “experience economy” in Australia, data-driven smart venues deploy exciting new tech in various ways, helping to increase revenues at events. Many of these are based around convenience, such as apps for ordering food that reduce queues at stalls, plus order-and-collect options for team and event merchandise. Just as important, security tech ensures that sports events are much safer environments.
Over the last year or so, barely a day goes by without media headlines filled with news about Artificial Intelligence (AI), and whether it’s good or bad for humanity. While there are clearly many pros and cons associated with the technology, there are certainly lots of innovative positives associated with modern sports.
Statistics have always played a key role in the analysis of sporting performance, and increasingly so with greater access to data via digital platforms. But new tech involving AI has also begun to make its mark insofar as how fans engage and interact with sports, as machine learning and predictive algorithms bring new insights. Alongside giving fans more information, such AI tech is also proving extremely useful to professional athletes and teams.
Coaches at leading soccer and rugby teams now use software powered by AI, which assists with the preparation of everything from tactical planning to fitness training schedules. These applications have already shown to have increased performance, thanks to the ability to instantly calculate millions of individual data points.
Health and Wellbeing
These days, athletes who compete in top-level sports are almost like finely-tuned machines, always looking to achieve peak performance on a consistent basis, leading to a growing involvement with biotechnology studies and research. Basic examples include the use of equipment to monitor heart rates and muscle movement, but Aussie tech innovations delve much deeper into the human body.
“You are what you eat” is a popular phrase, and it’s one that rings true for sports professionals, who are keen to maximize the potential of their careers. Many sporting organisations and clubs now employ dedicated nutritionists, who come up with individual meal and supplement plans for some of the most iconic stars. Even metabolic and cellular health are considered when recommending dietary plans.
But other areas of general health and wellbeing are also involved, as Australian biotech companies ideate creative innovations for sports. Getting plenty of restful sleep is key to recovery and regeneration, so there are sleep tech applications to help with that and even smart mattresses linked to sleep training applications. Quite literally, all these tech advances have become the stuff of dreams for sports.